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What is neurosis?

Neurosis is a condition where negative or obsessive thoughts tend to dominate your mind, making your behavior drastic and irrational, and causing you to struggle with everyday situations.

Neurosis may also be called neurotic behavior.

What are the symptoms of neurosis?

Neurosis is no longer considered a stand-alone medical condition but comes under an anxiety diagnosis.

Symptoms generally include excessive worry or intense behavior that interferes with a person’s professional, romantic, and social life, no matter how minor the problem is.

Examples of neurotic behavior include:

  • You arrive at the airport 4 hours before departure even though 2 hours would be sufficient, then ask the gate agent every 10 minutes if the departure is on time
  • You constantly ask a new romantic partner if they are cheating on you then blame yourself for driving them away
  • Complaining about random aches and pains or illnesses, although to an outsider there appears to be no medical cause
  • Constantly telling people off for obscure reasons, such as laughing too loudly, walking on your sidewalk, or the way they hang up their washing
  • Being obsessed about your child’s safety to the point you won’t let them play at the playground or play with friends
  • Spending more time than necessary to complete a task because you don’t want to make a mistake
  • Making a big fuss over minor incidents
  • Harboring a sense of dread about the future

Having a neurotic personality can make people more prone to other conditions, called internalizing disorders, such as:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social phobia

How is neurosis treated?

Neurosis may be treated using behavior modification therapies, pharmacological treatments, or both.

Treatments may include:

  • Helping the person with neurosis to become aware of the repressed impulses, feelings, and traumatic memories that underlie their symptoms
  • Reconditioning learned responses, through a process known as desensitization
  • Modeling more effective behavior, so the person learns by example
  • Discussing thoughts and perceptions that contribute to a patient’s neurotic symptoms, and then replacing them with more realistic interpretations
  • Mindfulness – thinking more intensely about one's experiences and then changing the way they view the experience
  • Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, or antipsychotic drugs
  • Electroconvulsive (shock) therapy